The trail starts at the White House Overlook on the South Rim Drive. It is the only public hiking trail in Canyon de Chelly NM.
The trail starts with a 600 foot descent down a switchback trail into the canyon. The views are astounding! It is recommended that you do the South Rim scenic drive in the afternoon for the best photos, and I agree! The sun shining on the canyon walls is magnificent.
The hike is 2.5 miles round trip, and took us just over two hours. We were hiking with 6 children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old. Our one year old was carried by my husband, but all of our other children walked the entire hike. I’m super impressed by the hiking skills of our 3 year old. I’m sure a few people we passed on the way down had their doubts that we would make it back up, but they completed the hike with ease and smiles on their faces.
There are some very steep drop offs. The kids know the rules... no running and stay to the inside edge of the trail. If for some reason you get separated or lost, hug a rock. And please, only handstands and cartwheels when mommy says it’s ok!
As you reach the bottom of the canyon, you’ll see a small Navajo homestead (no photography allowed). You’ll cross over a small bridge and then it’s not too much further to the White House Ruins.
The kids discovered that their voices echo off the canyon walls!
After taking a few moments to enjoy the ruins and peek into history, it’s time to head back out the way you came.
There are a few shady spots, tunnels, and alcoves to rest on your way back up and out of the canyon.
We would have loved more time in this beautiful place to go to all of the overlooks and complete the North and South Rim drives (two hours recommended for each), but we had had a very full day of fun, family adventure. So we retired to our campground and I started reading aloud a classic that takes place in the Canyon de Chelly.
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